Skip to main content

Cuba acts to draw more foreign investors

By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
March 31, 2014 -- Updated 1648 GMT (0048 HKT)
Tourists travel in a taxi, on January 8, 2014 in Havana. Cuban lawmakers approved an international investment measure.
Tourists travel in a taxi, on January 8, 2014 in Havana. Cuban lawmakers approved an international investment measure.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Cuban lawmakers approve foreign investment law
  • They want to bring pep to anemic economy
  • Measure includes lower taxes

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Few would say Cuba is an easy place to do business, but a new law aimed at bringing pep to an anemic economy may lure more foreign investors.

Cuban lawmakers Saturday approved an international investment measure.

Vice President Marino Murillo Jorge, the economy czar, said that while Cuba would open further to investment, the government would retain a strong hand in dealing with investors.

"The state will always be a participant to avoid the concentration of property," Murillo said in televised remarks Saturday.

Nueva ley de inversión en Cuba
Protests in Venezuela worry many in Cuba

According to state media reports, 576 members of Cuba's National Assembly gathered for a special session to consider the international investment law.

Officials said greater international investment was necessary to expand the island's stagnant economy, which grew at 2.7% last year, below official predictions. Cuban officials say the country needs to grow at 7% annually in order to sufficiently expand the economy.

Members of the international media were not given access to the session.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba allowed private enterprise and international investment, which had been forbidden shortly after the 1959 revolution that swept Fidel Castro to power.

But the return of capitalism to the island has had mixed results, with dozens of international investors arrested in corruption probes and others leaving the island frustrated over the endless red tape and lack of governmental protections for private industry.

The new law would lower taxes on international investors and remove some of the entrenched bureaucracy and lack of transparency that is part of doing business with the island's communist-style centralized economy.

"[The investment law] will attract foreign capital with clear rules and respect national sovereignty in a mutually beneficial way," said External Trade Minister Ricardo Malmierca, according to the state-run website Cubadebate.

Maintaining strong controls

Cuban president Raul Castro was seen in photographs the government released voting in favor of the measure.

Full details of the new law will not be published for another 90 days, state media said.

The law would permit investment in all area of the Cuban economy except for health care and education, according to state media reports.

But all international investment still would need approval from government officials.

However, officials promised the approved law would speed up the approval process for new investments.

Government-controlled media reported that several forms of investment would be permitted, including enterprises wholly owned by international investors.

However, in practice, the Cuban government only permits international investors to hold minority interests in joint ventures with the government.

The new law is meant for international investors only and does not apply to Cubans, who the government does not permit to form companies and make large-scale investments on the island.

However, during the discussion of the law Saturday, External Trade Minister Malmierca said Cuban exiles might be allowed to invest in the country they had left.

"As long as it involves people who do not have adverse positions to the revolution and are not part of the Miami terrorist mafia," he said using a term commonly used by Cuban government officials refer to exiles who are in opposition to the island's single party form of government.

The five-decades-old U.S. trade embargo forbids most forms of commerce between American companies and Cuba.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 2001 GMT (0401 HKT)
The U.S. has promised to supply and train "acceptable" rebels in Syria to counter ISIS. But who are they and are can the strategy work?
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0257 GMT (1057 HKT)
Do the Chinese really like to mix their Bordeaux with Coca-Cola?
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0938 GMT (1738 HKT)
Al Qaeda's new Syrian branch, Khorasan, is seeking new ways to attack America and Europe, with a top U.S. intelligence official saying it has "aspirations for attacks on the homeland."
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0039 GMT (0839 HKT)
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 0655 GMT (1455 HKT)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Liverpool's Italian forward Mario Balotelli reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Liverpool and Ludogorets Razgrad at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool on September 16, 2014.
British police launched an investigation into abusive tweets sent to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.
September 21, 2014 -- Updated 2344 GMT (0744 HKT)
A woman who was texting her husband before he was killed reflects on the Westgate attack.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
The real secret to a faster commute has been with us all along -- the bus.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1316 GMT (2116 HKT)
13 brands retained their Top 20 status from last year, according to an annual survey.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
Think your new tattoo is cool? Look at how our ancestors did it and think again.
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 1100 GMT (1900 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT